When former studio chief Donald De Line left the executive suite to become a producer, he decided to get his hands dirty rather than produce from afar. 'There are producers who sit in an office and producers who like to be on set, in the midst of the action,' De Line says. 'I like to be in the midst of the action.'
One time president of both Paramount Pictures and Touchstone Pictures, De Line and his De Line Pictures is as busy as any production outfit in Hollywood. Last year he spent six months in Australia on the adventure romance Fool's Gold and segued into several months in Morocco and Washington DC for Body Of Lies with Ridley Scott.
The terrorism thriller opened recently in North America through Warner Bros where De Line Pictures has a first-look deal and has just begun its key international rollout in late October. The film represents the accomplishment of a goal the producer originally set his sights on at Paramount, when he and Scott tried to get a thriller called The Invisible World, by author David Ignatius, off the ground.
When Warner Bros acquired Ignatius' manuscript to Body Of Lies, a taut espionage thriller set in Jordan, and attached William Monahan to adapt the screenplay, De Line leapt at the opportunity.
'It's a great espionage story that had this real sense of verisimilitude and immediacy,' De Line says. 'It was interesting not only on the level of a spy story but for what it said about the juxtaposition between two cultures. It's also an interesting character study about this guy (a CIA agent played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who has to immerse himself in a foreign culture.'
The shoot took place in autumn 2007 and went smoothly enough, even though Ramadan overlapped the first month of filming in Morocco, where they shot in Rabat and the Saharan town of Quarzazate to double for Middle Eastern locations. 'Our local crew members were taking prayer breaks and had to work during the day while they were fasting,' De Line says. 'But it was fine. This was Ridley's fourth movie in Morocco and he's so fast and knows what he wants'
Meanwhile De Line has just finished two comedies. Warner Bros will release Observe And Report with Seth Rogen and Anna Faris in spring 2009 while I Love You, Man starring Paul Rudd and Forgetting Sarah Marshall's Jason Segel is a DreamWorks title that has been set tentatively for an early 2009 release through Paramount.
Coming up in 2010 through Warner Bros is Zack Snyder's first animated project Guardians Of Ga'Hoole based on a children's book about a colony of imperilled owls, as well as the superhero project The Green Lantern and two Hanna-Barbera adaptations - The Jetsons with Robert Rodriguez and Yogi Bear with Ash Brannon set to direct.
'I was never in one niche as a studio executive,' De Line says. 'I like to traverse genres - it keeps you stimulated.'